Our Prepositional God
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.” Romans 11:36
Have you ever tried to describe God? Have you ever tried to pack the God of the universe into a word or words? Some terms offer sizable storage space such as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent; these words have expandable sides allowing extra packing room. Then, there are the names of God which come with their own handles, enabling their title specific contents to be packed up, picked up, and passed about. Names such as Jehovah (Self-Existent), Elohim (Creator; Triune God), and Adonai (Master) serve as containers in which we can store the multiple dimensions of God. And then there are the Samsonites of the Ages: Scripture verses. Once filled, these trunks allow us to unpack them again, and again, and again, each time finding new attributes of God. Trunks such as Psalm 116:5, “The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.”; Psalm 86:5, “For You, Oh Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”; and Deuteronomy 4:31, “For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you.” But even with these options, it is difficult to find the right word, the right storage unit, in which to pack the truths about our Sovereign LORD.
However, I think I have found some words that, though seemingly one-dimensional, not only have the depth, width, and length needed to be useful storage units but they also have an elasticity that enables them to stretch above and beyond the rigid capacities of other terms, or units. Think of them as the “buffet pants” of words. You know the type…you pull them out around Thanksgiving and put them up a week or two after Christmas. (Or make a resolution to have them off by March…or April…or May…or…perhaps to buy them in another, more slimming, color!) The words I am referring to are prepositions. If that part of speech is beyond your remembrance, then let me jog your memory by giving you a list of some of them: above, among, before, behind, beneath, beside, by, for, from, inside, near, over, through, underneath, upon, and within. Does that bring back the thrill of elementary English? Are visions of dangling participles and conjugated verbs now wafting through your formerly suppressed literary cortex? Good. Now, while you’re in your happy place, think back and dredge up the reasons for learning those prepositions. First, you’ll recall that prepositions are positional identifiers. They tell where things are located: above the house, among the trees, beside the bench, near the lake, within the nest. Secondly, you’ll remember that prepositions serve as connectors, forming phrases by joining the preposition with a noun, pronoun, adjective, or adverb. Finally, there is the usefulness of removing all prepositional phrases from a sentence so that the subject might be clearly seen, because…as everyone knows…the subject would never, ever hide out in a prepositional phrase!
Now, before you dismiss my submittal of prepositions as storage worthy words, please take a closer look at them and see if they aren’t packed with powerful potential…or have the powerful potential to pack. Take, for example, these simple word sets that are able to carry as much as their bulkier counterparts:
- Within, through…vs…omniscient; God is all-knowing because He lives and moves…
- Within our hearts
- Through our thoughts
- Above, below, before, behind…vs…omnipresent; God is all-present because He is…
- Above us
- Below us
- Before us
- Behind us
- Against, around, between, over…vs…omnipotent; God is all-powerful because He is…
- Against our foes
- Around our flesh
- Between us and our enemies
- Over our weaknesses
- Among, near, with…vs…Jehovah-Shammah; we can call on “The LORD Who Is There” because…
- He dwells among us
- He is near us
- He is with us
- In front of, on top of, instead of…vs…Jehovah-Nissi; we can stand under “The LORD Our Banner” because…
- His army goes in front of us
- His angels stay on top of us
- His adversary falls instead of us
Then, there is my favorite prepositional Bible verse, Romans 11:36:
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.”
Isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it awe-some? Isn’t it a bottomless trunk that will never be completely unpacked? With the use of three prepositions, we learn that everything comes from God, is done through God, and returns to God. Wow. So simple yet so profound; so small yet so expansive; so solid yet so fluid. It’s God’s thread through which we are stitched into His heavenly pattern. Here’s the visual I have. Picture a huge needle, held by an extremely large hand and threaded with golden strands, descending from heaven, swooping through you, and gathering you back up to heaven. There, you find yourself embedded in a beautiful tapestry that, to your surprise, God has been working on for an eternity. And there you are, right where you’re supposed to be, right beside the other pieces that, when viewed as a whole, make a beautiful pattern; an everlasting pattern. Think of it as God’s version of an Infinity Quilt! The thread, a depiction of God’s power, presence, and purpose, plunges, pierces, then proceeds back to the One from which it came. It’s incredible: from Him, through Him, to Him. I know the Bible as a whole is meant to be read and studied precept upon precept, but I have to say that this verse, on its own, stacks up precept upon precept…upon precept!
So, there you have my rationale for suggesting that prepositions are some of the most expandable words one can use when describing God. We may not sound as scholarly as those who know, and can pronounce, the names of God in Hebrew or whose syl-odometer never drops below the cruise rate of six syllables per word, but we can still say as much…if we know our prepositions. When was the world created? In the beginning. How did God make it? Out of nothing. How did disease and death enter in? Through sin. Why did God send His Son? To save mankind. How was our sin debt paid? Through Christ, upon a cross. How are all saved? By faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Where will the redeemed go? Into the New Jerusalem. How will Christ return? With a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God. Bam! The gospel…in a prepositional nutshell!
How does one describe God? Well, He’s above, across, among, around, before, behind, below, beside, between, inside, near, over, under, upon, with, within, and without. Like the prepositions He inhabits, He’s our identifier and our connector, but unlike the prepositional phrases He inhabits, He is the subject of them all…because from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To God be the glory forever. Amen